by Christopher Eberhart
Metaverse (META) will ultimately become a cesspool of
destructive human activity as there are no laws to
Already, there have been realistic sexual assaults that
have gone unchallenged, and yet left young women
don't protect avatars or software code.
"MURDER" in the metaverse (META
aka Facebook Inc.) isn't a 25-to-life prison sentence - or
even a felony - but it could be a crime, some law experts believe.
The Sun spoke to two lawyers, who have written about crime in the
metaverse, and a former Manhattan prosecutor turned law professor
about violence in the virtual world and if they can be prosecuted.
Two of the three experts said,
violent crimes like
murder, rape or
assault in the metaverse can arguably be speech-related charges like
menacing, harassment or stalking...
It boils down to the wording of the laws as they're currently
written, according to the experts.
They're written to protect "real, living people," said
Bandler, who teaches cyber security and cyber crime at New
Elisabeth Haub School of Law at
The law isn't meant to protect avatars or software codes, which
populate the metaverse.
"I would view it more
like speech or expression; less as a physical act against a
person," Bandler said.
"Then we can analyze whether that speech or expression is
permissible, protected, or not."
That argument feeds into
the larger societal First Amendment debate about what speech is
protected, what isn't and what can be prosecuted.
"All the trolling,
virtual bullying, threats and bad behavior online happens all
the time. It's nothing new, and it'll happen in the metaverse,"
said Greg Pryor, a lawyer at the lawfirm
Reed Smith LLP.
"But if I say something racist or abuse someone based on their
race or religion or sexuality, then you can potentially be
A third expert -
Patrick Roberts, of the Roberts
Law Group - said it would be difficult to prosecute a
typically-anonymous user and prove the user committed the act.
likely be some sort of virtual punishment, such as a user's avatar
being deactivated or restricted, he said.
"And the person
who used the avatar for virtual violence might be restricted or
prevented from access for a time, maybe," the North Carolina
"This is all
conjecture and has free speech implications. After all, people
kill each other in video games all the time without
I can't imagine a real world penal consequences
for virtual crime."
WILL AVATARS GET
This question split
the experts who spoke to The Sun throughout the last week.
Bandler, who has an
extensive history and knowledge with cyber crimes, said protecting
avatars through criminal law "could not work."
"I don't think
the criminal laws should be amended to protect avatars as
people. It would not make sense, and we have enough challenges
just protecting people," Bandler said.
means thousands (millions) of avatars are 'injured' or 'killed'
daily. Indeed, such acts are either 'part of the game' or at
least allowed by the game."
Even now, very few
digital harassment crimes or threats on the internet are prosecuted,
according to Bandler.
"Every case is
individualized, but a lot of threats get made and criminal
enforcement isn't frequent," he said.
"I can't imagine threats
in the metaverse will get a lot of traction with law
"You can try to
report them to the FBI, but good luck. The main recourse is
through the platform."